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Column: At home at Busch

Posted Wednesday, October 3, 2012, at 6:45 PM

I love the feeling of opening the door to my house and knowing that I am in a place that is mine, a place where I belong without question -- a place where I can be myself.

It's not that I feel out of place when I am somewhere else. It's just that it feels so right.

I'm always amazed at how close I come to that feeling as I pass through the gates of Busch Stadium.

I don't go to many Cardinals games. I think the most I've been to in one year is seven or eight, and on average I go to just a couple per season.

But every time I get there, I get this feeling that I belong.

I'm sure the people on the Cardinals marketing team love to hear that. The organization obviously spends a lot of money to let me know that I'm in "baseball heaven."

It's not lost on me that I pay money -- sometimes a lot of it -- to get to experience this feeling. I also realize the ridiculousness of the cost of a hotdog.

But I think I get what I pay for when it comes to a ticket. The Cardinals can't win every game or the World Series every year, but I believe that's the organization's goal. How many organization's can say that with a straight face? There are plenty that can't.

We all have opinions on decisions that are made both in and out of season. I sometimes disagree with the decisions, but that doesn't mean I don't respect the people making them.

I don't buy a hotdog most of the time. Problem solved.

I attended my second game this season Sunday. While I absolutely looked forward to going, it wasn't excitement I felt as I walked through the corridors and eventually took my seat.

It was calm. It was that relaxing feeling of knowing that I was in a place I was supposed to be.

Busch Stadium is a home for Cardinals fans, and when I walk through the door I am happier to be there than almost anywhere.

It's often difficult to explain feelings. The best I can do is make a couple comparisons and hope some of you out there nod in agreement.

I do wonder why I -- and hopefully others -- feel this way. I wondered about it most of the game.

Players change. Seasons change. The manager and coaches change. My feelings don't.

Then I looked down at the middle-age woman in front of me wearing her Whitey Herzog jersey and her radio headphones. She was bobbing her head quite skillfully to "I Gotta Feeling" by The Black Eyed Peas while her gray-haired husband tapped his foot to the beat.

I'd been watching her cheer and dance and, in general, just look as happy as any human can as she clung to every pitch, but it wasn't until this moment that it hit me.

If Busch is my home, then that woman and all the people like her are family. And who wouldn't feel wonderful coming back to see all of them again?

Rachel Crader is editor of semoball.com. Contact her at semoball.com.

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Rachel Crader is the editor of semoball.com. She graduated from the University of Missouri School of Journalism in May of 2009 before spending the summer covering the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas.

Highlights from Rachel's days in college include having a class down the hall from Chase Daniel and having NCAA wrestling champion Ben Askren hold the door open for her at Brady Commons, Mizzou's student center. She spent time covering Mizzou basketball, softball and baseball while working for the Columbia Missourian and is excited to return home to Southeast Missouri to cover local sports for semoball.com.

Rachel has covered three Southeast Missourian Christmas Tournaments for the Southeast Missourian and semoball.com, and she'll see you courtside again this year.